How Does Depression Counseling Work?
For most depression sufferers, mental health counseling, or psychotherapy, is an essential part of a larger treatment plan that also includes prescription medication such as antidepressants. The duration of your counseling, length of each session and treatment strategies implemented will depend on your therapist’s assessment of your case and progress, and perhaps also on their preferred approaches or specializations.
Prior to or during your first session, your psychotherapist will likely have you fill out forms in which you provide details about your personal and medical history. You may also be asked to provide some initial description about what you expect from treatment and any concerns you may have. This information will help your therapist in finding the best treatment method(s) for you.
Several depression counseling techniques have been found to yield effective positive results for patients, but two of the most widely used counseling approaches to depression therapy, and to mood disorder treatment as a whole, are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT).
Massage therapy may be helpful in treating depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that massage can decrease cortisol levels by up to half and also increase neurotransmitter levels, the brain chemicals a lack of which is believed to be a leading cause of depression.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, works to help you examine and modify your thought processes. Your depression therapist will use this form of talk therapy to help you identify distorted or otherwise negative thought patterns, and to then replace them with new, accurate ways of thinking that will enable you to understand situations more clearly and respond more effectively. Cognitive behavioral therapy is designed take place during a structured, limited time frame but to provide the patient with coping skills that last beyond the duration of the sessions.
Interpersonal Therapy for Depression
Interpersonal therapy is another strategy effectively used in depression counseling. It looks at how any problems the patient might have in their personal relationships and social interactions might be contributing to their depression, and then seeks to find solutions that will improve those relationships and interactions.
Another useful type of psychotherapy for the management of depression symptoms is mindfulness therapy, which asks the patient to consciously narrow their mental focus to the present moment, setting aside both their regrets about the past and their worries about the future, and acknowledge and accept their feelings and circumstances in that present moment, without trying to change them. Mindfulness can be an especially effective psychotherapeutic strategy for people whose depression is accompanied by the sometimes overwhelming panic of an anxiety disorder.
In addition to one-on-one appointments, your depression counselor may also recommend group sessions as part of your treatment. Group sessions take place either with members of the patient’s family, or with other people who also suffer from depression.
Finding a Psychotherapist
If your doctor diagnoses you with depression, they will likely refer you to a psychotherapist as part of your treatment; if not, ask them to recommend one for you. You can also look up reliable resources for finding depression counseling online.